Transgender ROTC Cadet Faces Dismissal Regardless of Fitness for Duty

by Palm Center | April 20, 2019


  1. The transgender ban started injuring people so fast.  Why? Because, from DOD’s perspective, it doesn’t need to consider the accomplishments and potential that earned this cadet a military scholarship at a top national university.  It doesn’t need to consider whether he is a strong performer in ROTC. It doesn’t need to consider whether gender transition caused him to miss a single academic or military obligation to ROTC.  Because none of it matters, and because none of it is even the point of the ban. All DOD had to learn was that a cadet transitioned gender. With a second of deliberation, he’s out. Scholarship revoked, dismissed from ROTC.  DOD doesn’t care about talent, fitness, or potential, and in fact the policy prohibits anyone from caring about talent, fitness, or potential.
  2. ROTC is going to be an important part of legal and political challenges going forward.  By nature of the setting, they mostly will not be grandfathered, yet they have military-relevant records of achievement.  Also by nature of the setting, and in contrast to serving people who are not grandfathered (the 90% of transgender members), they have access to gender-transition care on the civilian side.  This circumstance sets up a three-way collision between the ban, gender transition, and a record of military performance that is difficult to replicate in the military itself, and impossible for regular civilian applicants to replicate.
  3. DOD doesn’t seem to have understood its own policy choices well enough to know that grandfathering was going to be a spectacular mess in ROTC.  Every spokesperson so far has been clueless in their attempts to explain how the policy works. All they know is the “buzz phrases.”